Gilding is any decorative technique for applying a thin coating of gold to solid surfaces such as metal, porcelain, or stone. A gilded object is described as "gilt". Where metal is gilded, it was traditionally silver in the West, to make silver-gilt objects, but gilt-bronze is used in China, called ormolu if it is Western. Methods of gilding include hand application and gluing of gold leaf, chemical gilding, electroplating, the last called gold plating. Parcel-gilt objects are only gilded over part of their surfaces; this may mean that all of the inside, none of the outside, of a chalice or similar vessel is gilded, or that patterns or images are made up by using a combination of gilt and ungilted areas. Gilding gives an object a gold appearance at a fraction of the cost of creating a solid gold object. In addition, a solid gold piece would be too soft or too heavy for practical use. A gilt surface does not tarnish as silver does. Herodotus mentions that the Egyptians gilded wood and metals, many such objects have been excavated.
Certain Ancient Greek statues of great prestige were chryselephantine, i.e. made of ivory. Extensive ornamental gilding was used in the ceiling coffers of the Propylaea. Pliny the Elder informs us that the first gilding seen at Rome was after the destruction of Carthage, under the censorship of Lucius Mummius, when the Romans began to gild the ceilings of their temples and palaces, the Capitol being the first place on which this process was used, but he adds that luxury advanced on them so that in little time you might see all private and poor people, gild the walls and other parts of their dwellings. Owing to the comparative thickness of the gold leaf used in ancient gilding, the traces of it that remain are remarkably brilliant and solid. Fire-gilding of metal goes back at least to the 4th century BC, was known to Pliny, Vitruvius and in the Early Mediaeval period to Theophilus. In Europe, silver-gilt has always been more common than gilt-bronze, but in China the opposite has been the case.
The ancient Chinese developed the gilding of porcelain, taken up by the French and other European potters. Modern gilding is applied by various processes. More traditional techniques still form an important part of framemaking and are sometimes still employed in general woodworking, cabinet-work, decorative painting and interior decoration and ornamental leather work, in the decoration of pottery and glass. Mechanical gilding includes all the operations in which gold leaf is prepared, the processes to mechanically attach the gold onto surfaces; the techniques include burnishing, water gilding and oil-gilding used by wood gilders. "Overlaying" or folding or hammering on gold foil or gold leaf is the simplest and most ancient method, is mentioned in Homer's Odyssey and the Old Testament. The Ram in a Thicket of about 2600–2400 BCE from Ur uses this technique on wood, with a thin layer of bitumen underneath to help adhesion; the next advances involved two simple processes. The first involves gold leaf, gold, hammered or cut into thin sheets.
Gold leaf is thinner than standard paper today, when held to the light is semi-transparent. In ancient times it was about ten times thicker than today, half that in the Middle Ages. If gilding on canvas or on wood, the surface was first coated with gesso. "Gesso" is a substance made of chalk mixed with glue. Once the coating of gesso had been applied, allowed to dry, smoothed, it was re-wet with a sizing made of rabbit-skin glue and water or boiled linseed oil mixed with litharge and the gold leaf was layered on using a gilder's tip and left to dry before being burnished with a piece of polished agate; those gilding on canvas and parchment sometimes employed stiffly-beaten egg whites, and/or Armenian bole as sizing, though egg whites and gum both become brittle over time, causing the gold leaf to crack and detach, so honey was sometimes added to make them more flexible. Other gilding processes involved using the gold as pigment in paint: the artist ground the gold into a fine powder and mixed it with a binder such as gum arabic.
The resulting gold paint, called shell gold, was applied in the same way as with any paint. Sometimes, after either gold-leafing or gold-painting, the artist would heat the piece enough to melt the gold ensuring an coat; these techniques remained the only alternatives for materials like wood, the vellum pages of illuminated manuscripts, gilt-edged stock. Chemical gilding embraces those processes in which the gold is at some stage of chemical combination; these include: In this process the gold is obtained in a state of fine division, applied by mechanical means. Cold gilding on silver is performed by a solution of gold in aqua regia, applied by dipping a linen rag into the solution, burning it, rubbing the black and heavy ashes on the silver with the finger or a piece of leather or cork. Wet gilding is effected by means of a dilute solution of gold chloride in aqua regia with twice its quantity of ether
United States commemorative coin
The United States has minted numerous commemorative coins in remembrance of particular persons, places and institutions. These coins are not intended for general circulation. Many consider the 1848 2½ dollar gold piece counter stamped "CAL" to be the first U. S. commemorative coin. Most standard lists begin with the 1892 half dollar commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to America; the following year, the Columbian Exposition quarter dollar featuring Queen Isabella of Spain was issued. Most students of U. S. commemorative coinage acknowledge the gap between 1954 and 1982 by classifying those minted from 1892 to 1954 as Early Commemoratives, those minted since 1982 as Modern Commemoratives. The 1926 Sesquicentennial half dollar has the bust of Calvin Coolidge; the reverse side depicts the Liberty Bell. The 1926 Sesquicentennial Gold Quarter Eagle has Lady Liberty on the obverse side; the reverse side depicts Independence Hall. In 1925, a commemorative 50-cent coin was released that showed Stonewall Jackson.
Money raised from the sale of the coins was combined with money raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Association in order to fund the carving of a Confederate monument at Stone Mountain. The U. S. Mint was criticized for commemorative issues of dubious recognition and endless mint runs; as an example of the latter, the Oregon Trail Memorial 50-cent piece was minted 8 years during a 14-year span. Multiple unrelated commemoratives were minted in many years, diminishing the significance of commemorative issues. In 1936 alone the following 19 commemorative half dollars were minted: Oregon Trail Memorial, Texas Centennial half dollar, Daniel Boone Bicentennial half dollar, Arkansas Centennial half dollar, California Pacific International Exposition half dollar, Rhode Island Tercentenary half dollar, Cleveland Centennial half dollar, Wisconsin Territorial Centennial half dollar, Cincinnati Music Center half dollar, Long Island Tercentenary half dollar, Connecticut Centennial half dollar, Virginia Sesquicentennial half dollar, Illinois, Centennial half dollar, Albany Charter half dollar, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge half dollar, South Carolina Sesquicentennial half dollar, Delaware Tercentenary half dollar, Battle of Gettysburg half dollar, Norfolk, Bicentennial half dollar.
A half-dollar commemorative coin of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase was proposed in 1952, but failed to go into mint and the period of Early Commemoratives soon after ended with the 1954 issues of the Washington–Carver 50-cent piece. Circulating commemorative coins have been somewhat more unusual in the United States; these are coins that are minted to commemorate a particular person, event, or institution, but are intended to enter general circulation. In 1932, the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, the mint produced a circulating commemorative, the Washington Quarter. In 1934, it became the regular issue coinage design. In 1975 and 1976, the Washington quarter was used to commemorate the United States Bicentennial with a circulating commemorative; the Kennedy half-dollar and Eisenhower dollar featured commemorative designs for circulation during these two years. More the State Quarters program began in 1999 circulating five different commemoratives each year with reverses for each of the 50 States in the order of their admission to the Union.
In 2007, six quarters commemorating the District of Columbia, two commonwealths, three territories were added to the program for issue in 2009. In 2004–2005 the mint issued four commemorative nickel five cent pieces in the Westward Journey Nickel Series, celebrating the 200th anniversaries of the Louisiana Purchase and the Corps of Discovery. In 2009, four commemorative one cent pieces were issued to mark the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. Beginning in 2010 and continuing through at least 2021, a new series of quarters, the America the Beautiful Quarters, was issued to recognize America's National Parks, with five quarters issued per year; when this program is completed, 23 years will have passed in which all quarters minted were commemorative. The value of commemorative coins depends upon the condition and composition of the coin. See coin grading. 50 State Quarters Early United States commemorative coins Modern United States commemorative coins Complete histories of over 50 US Commemoratives
History of the United States dollar
The history of the United States Dollar refers to more than 240 years since the Continental Congress of the United States authorized the issuance of Continental Currency in 1775. On April 2, 1792, the United States Congress created the United States dollar as the country's standard unit of money; the term dollar had been in common usage since the colonial period when it referred to eight-real coin used by the Spanish throughout New Spain. After the American Revolutionary War began in 1775, the Continental Congress began issuing paper money known as Continental currency, or Continentals. Continental currency was denominated in dollars from $1⁄6 to $80, including many odd denominations in between. During the Revolution, Congress issued $241,552,780 in Continental currency. By the end of 1778, this Continental currency retained only between 1⁄5 to 1⁄7 of its original face value. By 1780, Continental bills – or Continentals – were worth just 1⁄40 of their face value. Congress tried to reform the currency by removing the old bills from circulation and issuing new ones, but this met with little to no success.
By May 1781, Continentals had become so worthless. Benjamin Franklin noted that the depreciation of the currency had, in effect, acted as a tax to pay for the war. In the 1790s, after the ratification of the United States Constitution, Continentals could be exchanged for treasury bonds at 1% of face value. Congress appointed Robert Morris to be Superintendent of Finance of the United States following the collapse of Continental currency. In 1782, Morris advocated the creation of the first financial institution chartered by the United States; the Bank of North America was funded in part by bullion coin, loaned to the United States by France. Morris helped finance the final stages of the war by issuing promissory notes in his name, backed by his own money; the Bank of North America issued notes convertible into gold or silver. On July 6, 1785, the Continental Congress of the United States authorized the issuance of a new currency, the US dollar. However, runaway inflation and the collapse of the Continental currency prompted delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 to include the gold and silver clause in the United States Constitution, preventing individual States from issuing their own bills of credit.
Article One states they were prohibited to "make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts." Some people use this clause to argue. The United States Mint was created by Congress following the passing of the Coinage Act of 1792, it was tasked with producing and circulating coinage. The first Mint building was in Philadelphia the capital of the United States; the Mint was placed within the Department of State, until the Coinage Act of 1873 when it became part of the Department of the Treasury. The Mint had the authority to convert any precious metals into standard coinage for anyone's account with no seigniorage charge beyond refining costs. After the creation of the U. S. dollar, the fledgling American administration of President George Washington turned its attention to monetary issues again in the early 1790s, under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury at the time. Congress acted on Hamilton's recommendations, with the Coinage Act of 1792 that established the dollar as the basic unit of account for the United States.
The word dollar is derived from Low Saxon cognate of the High German Thaler. The most circulated and available currency, used by common Americans, at this time, was the Spanish Peso known as the "Spanish milled dollar", valued for its high silver content. In the early 19th century, the intrinsic value of gold coins rose relative to their nominal equivalent in silver coins, resulting in the removal from commerce of nearly all gold coins, their subsequent private melting. Therefore, in the Coinage Act of 1834, the 15:1 ratio of silver to gold was changed to a 16:1 ratio by reducing the weight of the nation's gold coinage; this created a new U. S. dollar, backed by 1.50 grams of gold. However, the previous dollar had been represented by 1.60 g of gold. The result of this revaluation, the first devaluation of the U. S. dollar, was that the value in gold of the dollar was reduced by 6%. Moreover, for a time, both gold and silver coins were useful in commerce. In 1853, the weights of U. S. silver coins were reduced.
This had the effect of placing the nation on the gold standard. The retained weight in the dollar coin was a nod to bimetallism, although it had the effect of further driving the silver dollar coin from commerce. Foreign coins, including the Spanish dollar, were widely used, as legal tender, until 1857. With the enactment of the National Banking Act of 1863—during the American Civil War—and its versions that taxed states' bonds and currency out of existence, the dollar became the sole currency of the United States and remains so today. During the 19th century the dollar was less accepted around the world than the British pound. Nellie Bly carried Bank of England notes on her 1889-1890 trip around the world in 72 days. Traveling east from New York, she did not see American money until she found $20 gold pieces used as jewelry in Colombo. In 1878, the Bland-Allison Act was enacted to provide for
Silver center cent
The silver center cent is an American pattern coin, one of the precursors to the large cent and an early example of a bimetallic coin. Less than a dozen specimens are known to exist today, they fetch substantial prices; that price was eclipsed by an example graded PCGS MS61 offered at auction in April 2012, with a price tag of more than $1 million. During the early years of the American republic, there was a general consensus that the intrinsic bullion value of the new nation's coinage should be equal to its face value; some merchants would refuse to accept coins. For most denominations, bullion parity was achieved by producing the coins in a gold or silver alloy. However, the Coinage Act of 1792 specified that the cent was to consist of 11 pennyweight of pure copper; such a weight, needed to maintain intrinsic value, would have been too heavy for practical everyday use. U. S. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson suggested an alternative: a coin made of an alloy, copper, but that included enough silver to give a reasonably-sized coin an intrinsic value of one cent.
This billon alloy was considered by the U. S. Mint, but U. S. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton feared that it would be too susceptible to counterfeiting, since its appearance differed little from that of pure copper. In 1792, the Mint's chief coiner, Henry Voight, hit upon a solution: a copper planchet smaller than that of a modern quarter, with a small silver "plug" inserted in a center hole during the striking process; the silver plug would have been worth 3⁄4¢ at contemporary bullion prices, while the copper planchet added an additional 1⁄4¢ of intrinsic value. Several such coins were produced as test pieces; the additional labor required for these bimetallic coins proved unsuitable for mass production, the large cent, produced for circulation starting in 1793 consisted of 208 grains of 100% copper. The obverse of the silver center cent features a Liberty head with flowing hair; the date appears below the portrait, the words "LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUST." are inscribed in a circular pattern around the central devices.
The reverse design consists of a wreath with the words "ONE CENT" in the center, the fraction "1/100" below. Surrounding the wreath, "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" is inscribed
The Philadelphia Mint was created from the need to establish a national identity and the needs of commerce in the United States. This led the Founding Fathers of the United States to make an establishment of a continental national mint, a main priority after the ratification of the Constitution of the United States; the Coinage Act of 1792 was entered into law on April 2. It proclaimed the creation of the United States Mint. Philadelphia at that time was the nation's capital; the Mint Act instituted a decimal system based on a dollar unit. David Rittenhouse, an American scientist, was appointed the first director of the mint by President George Washington. Two lots were purchased by Rittenhouse on July 18, 1792, at Seventh Street and 631 Filbert Street in Philadelphia for $4,266.67. The next day, demolition of an abandoned whiskey distillery on the property began. Foundation work began on July 31, by September 7, the first building was ready for installation of the smelting furnace; the smelt house was the first public building.
A three-story brick structure facing Seventh Street was constructed a few months later. Measuring nearly 37 ft wide on the street, it only extended back 33 ft; the gold and silver for the mint were contained in basement vaults. The first floor housed deposit and weighing rooms, along with the press room, where striking coins took place. Mint official offices were on the second floor, the assay office was located on the third floor. A photograph of the Seventh Street building taken around 1908 show that by the year 1792 and the words "Ye Olde Mint" had been painted onto the facade. Between the smelt house and the building on Seventh Street, a mill house was built. Horses in the basement turned a rolling mill located on the first floor. In January 1816, the smelt and mill houses were destroyed by a fire; the smelt house was never repaired and all smelting was done elsewhere. The mill house, destroyed, was soon replaced with a large brick building, it included a new steam engine in the basement to power the machinery.
Until 1833, these three buildings provided the United States with hard currency. Operations moved to the second Philadelphia mint in 1833, the land housing the first mint was sold. In the late 19th or early 20th century, the property was sold to Frank Stewart, who approached the city, asking them to preserve or relocate the historic buildings. With no governmental help, the first mint was demolished between 1907 and 1911. Now, only a small plaque remains to memorialize the spot. On July 4, 1829, a cornerstone was laid for the building at the intersection of Chestnut and Juniper Streets, it was designed by William Strickland. The second Philadelphia Mint, the "Grecian Temple", was constructed of white marble with classic Greek-style columns on front and back. Measuring 150 ft wide in front by 204 ft deep, it was a huge improvement over the first facility, in space as well as image. Opening in January 1833, its production was constrained by the outdated machinery salvaged from the first mint. Franklin Peale was sent to Europe to study advanced coinmaking technologies which were brought back and implemented, increasing productivity and quality.
Sold in 1902, the second mint was demolished. The cornerstone buried in 1833 was unearthed and contained a candy jar with a petrified cork stoppering it. Inside the jar were three coins, a few newspapers, a scroll with information on the first mint and the creation of the second; the site has been occupied since 1914 by 1339 Chestnut Street. The third Philadelphia Mint was built at 1700 Spring Garden Street and opened in 1901, it was designed by William Martin Aiken, Architect for the Treasury, but it was constructed under James Knox Taylor. It was a block from the United States Smelting Company, at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. In one year alone, the mint produced 501,000,000 coins, as well as 90,000,000 coins for foreign countries. A massive structure nearly a full city block, it was an instant landmark, characterized by a Roman temple facade. Visitors enjoyed seven themed glass mosaics designed by Louis C. Tiffany in a gold-backed vaulted ceiling; the mosaics depicted ancient Roman coinmaking methods.
This mint still stands intact, much of the interior is intact, as well. It was acquired by the Community College of Philadelphia in 1973. A tribute page has been created. Two blocks from the site of the first mint, the fourth and current Philadelphia Mint opened its doors in 1969, it was designed by Philadelphia architect Vincent G. Kling, who would help design Five Penn Center, Centre Square, the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, it was the world's largest mint when it was built and held that distinction as of October 2017. The Philadelphia Mint can produce up to one million coins in 30 minutes, it took three years for the original mint to produce that many. The mint produces medals and awards for military and civil services. Engraving of all dies and strikers only occurs here. Uncirculated coins minted here have the "P" mint mark, while circulated coins from before 1980 carried no mint mark except the Jefferson nickels minted from 1942–1945 and the 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. Since 1980, all coins minted there have the "P" mint mark except cents until 2017.
Tours can be taken. This takes place via an enclosed catwalk above the minting facility itself. Various video stations are p
Coins of the United States dollar
Coins of the United States dollar were first minted in 1792. New coins have been produced annually since and they make up a valuable aspect of the United States currency system. Today, circulating coins exist in denominations of 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢, $1.00. Minted are bullion and commemorative coins. All of these are produced by the United States Mint; the coins are sold to Federal Reserve Banks which in turn are responsible for putting coins into circulation and withdrawing them as demanded by the country's economy. Today, four mints operate in the United States producing billions of coins each year; the main mint is the Philadelphia Mint, which produces circulating coinage, mint sets and some commemorative coins. The Denver Mint produces circulating coinage, mint sets and commemoratives; the San Francisco Mint produces regular and silver proof coinage, produced circulating coinage until the 1970s. The West Point Mint produces bullion coinage. Philadelphia and Denver produce the dies used at all of the mints.
The proof and mint sets are manufactured each year and contain examples of all of the year's circulating coins. The producing mint of each coin may be identified, as most coins bear a mint mark; the identifying letter of the mint can be found on the front side of most coins, is placed near the year. Unmarked coins are issued by the Philadelphia mint. Among marked coins, Philadelphia coins bear a letter P. Denver coins bear a letter D, San Francisco coins bear a letter S, West Point coins bear a letter W. S and W coins are if found in general circulation, although S coins bearing dates prior to the mid-1970s are in circulation; the CC, O, C, D mint marks were used on gold and silver coins for various periods in the mid-nineteenth century until the early twentieth century by temporary mints in Carson City, Nevada. The mass and composition of the cent changed to the current copper plated zinc core in 1982. Both types were minted in 1982 with no distinguishing mark. Cents minted in 1943 were struck on planchets punched from zinc coated steel which left the resulting edges uncoated.
This caused many of these coins to rust. These "steel pennies" are not to be found in circulation today, as they were intentionally removed from circulation for recycling the metal. However, cents minted from 1944 to 1946 were made from a special salvaged WWII brass composition to replace the steel cents, but still save material for the war effort, are more common in circulation than their 1943 counterparts; the wheat cent was common during its time. Some dates are rare; this is due to the fact that unlike the silver denominations, the composition of the pre-1982 cent, nearly pure copper, is not so much more valuable over face value for it to be hoarded to the extreme extent of the silver denominations. Nickels produced from mid-1942 through 1945 were manufactured from 56% copper, 35% silver and 9% manganese; this allowed the saved nickel metal to be shifted to industrial production of military supplies during World War II. Few of these are still found in circulation. Prior to 1965 and passage of the Coinage Act of 1965 the composition of the dime, half-dollar and dollar coins was 90% silver and 10% copper.
The half-dollar continued to be minted in a 40% silver-clad composition between 1965 and 1970. Dimes and quarters from before 1965 and half-dollars from before 1971 are not in circulation due to being removed for their silver content. In 1975 and 1976 bicentennial coinage was minted. Regardless of date of coining, each coin bears the dual date "1776-1976"; the Quarter-Dollar, Half-Dollar and Dollar coins were issued in the copper 91.67% nickel 8.33% composition for general circulation and the Government issued 6-coin Proof Set. A special 3-coin set of 40% silver coins were issued by the U. S. Mint in both Uncirculated and Proof. Use of the half-dollar is not as widespread as that of other coins in general circulation; when found, many 50¢ coins are hoarded, spent, or brought to banks. The Presidential Dollar series features portraits of all deceased U. S. Presidents with four coin designs issued each year in the order of the president's inauguration date; these coins began circulating on February 15, 2007.
Starting 2012, these coins have been minted only for collectible sets because of a large stockpile. The Susan B. Anthony dollar coin was minted from 1979–1981 and 1999; the 1999 minting was in response to Treasury supplies of the dollar becoming depleted and the inability to accelerate the minting of the Sacagawea dollars by a year. 1981 Anthony dollars can sometimes be found in circulation from proof sets that were broken open, but these dollars were not minted with the intent that they circulate. Non-circulating bullion coins have been produced each year since 1986, they can be found in gold and silver, since 1997 platinum. In 2017, the Mint introduced palladium bullion; the face value of these coins is legal as tender, but does not reflect the value of the precious metal contained therein. On May 11, 2011, Utah became the first state to accept these coins as the value of the precious metal in common transactions; the Utah State Treasurer assigns a numerical precious metal value to these coins each week based on the spot metal prices.
Modern commemoratives have been minte
The Wreath cent was an American large cent. It was the second design type, following the Chain cent in 1793, it was produced only during that year. The obverse design consisted of a stylized Liberty head with flowing hair; the inscription "LIBERTY" appeared above the portrait. Below it was the date; the design of the Liberty head was modified somewhat from that of the Chain cent to address public criticism. The reverse's central design figure, for which the coin is named, was a wreath; the words "ONE CENT" appeared within the wreath, the corresponding fraction "1/100" appeared beneath it. Along the outer edge was inscribed "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". A decorative beaded border was added along the rim. 63,353 Wreath cents were struck. Early specimens featured a stylized "vine/bars" design on the edges of the planchet, identical to that of the earlier Chain cent. On, this was changed to a lettered edge reading "ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR". Early American copper collectors categorize the coins still further into thirteen different varieties under the Sheldon system.
Most of these variations entail minor changes, require careful examination to discern. One variety, however, is far more recognizable: the "Strawberry Leaf". On these strikings, the trefoil sprig above the date took the form of a strawberry plant. Only four such specimens are known, all are circulated; the finest known Strawberry Leaf cent sold at auction for $414,000 in November 2004. The 1793 Wreath Cent is featured in the 2014 novel The Automation